Bills draw cheers in Canada; beat Redskins 23-0
TORONTO (AP) — Ryan Fitzpatrick quickly made his expensive new contract pay off, and the Buffalo Bills finally gave their adopted — and sometimes indifferent — fans north of the border something big to cheer about.
Fitzpatrick hit tight end Scott Chandler for two touchdowns, and the Bills defense had nine sacks and two interceptions to batter the already injury-riddled Washington Redskins in a 23-0 win at Toronto on Sunday.
Coming out of their bye week, the Bills (5-2) matched their best start since 2008, improved to 4-0 at "home," and won a regular-season game at Toronto for the first time in four trips since the cross-border series was established in 2008.
Running back Fred Jackson continued to pile up yards, finishing with 120 yards rushing, and 74 receiving. With 1,074 yards from scrimmage, he became only the fourth Bills player to surpass 1,000 yards seven games into a season, and first since Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas in 1991.
Fitzpatrick, who signed a six-year, $59 million contract on Friday, shook off a pair of turnovers — and a big hit from linebacker London Fletcher — to finish 21 of 27 for 262 yards and two touchdowns.
Rookie first-round pick Marcell Dareus led Buffalo's defense with 2½ sacks.
The Redskins (3-4) have lost three straight and look nothing like the team that entered its bye week at 3-1. They continue to unravel as a result of such a growing list of injuries that would put a dent into Canada's universal health care system.
Without running back Tim Hightower (knee), receiver Santana Moss (hand) and tight end Chris Cooley (knee), the John Beck-led attack managed 61 yards of offense and three first downs on six first-half possessions.
It didn't get much better in the second half as they were shut out for the first time since a 17-0 home loss to Dallas on Dec. 27, 2009.
Their second drive of the half ended when Beck was sacked for a seventh time attempting to convert a fourth-and-4. The next time out, Beck was intercepted by George Wilson.
Beck went 20 of 33 for 208 yards, as Washington managed 178 yards of offense and 10 first downs.
With the Bills up 13-0 at the half, Fitzpatrick opened the third quarter by producing a seven-play, 80-drive, which he capped by hitting Chandler on a fade in the left corner of the end zone on third-and-1 from the Redskins 15.
This marks the first time the Bills have opened a season with four straight home wins since 1995, when they went 5-0. Chandler's two scores give him six on the season matching a franchise record for players at his position.
And this all came in front of a ragtag mix of NFL fans in Toronto, whom Wilson had criticized this past week for failing to match the intensity the Bills get at their real home in Orchard Park.
The Bills did get the louder cheers, but it was another mixed-bag of a crowd attending the game, similar to the Bills previous trips north. There were notable pockets of Redskins fans throughout the stadium as part of an announced crowd of 51,579. Fans were very late-arriving, as there were numerous empty seats throughout the 54,000-seat stadium.
They wore everything from Bills jerseys (from Jim Kelly to Drew Bledsoe and even a current player C.J. Spiller), Redskins jerseys (former running back Clinton Portis' No. 26 was among the most popular) and those of other teams — Patriots, Raiders, Steelers, Browns, Bengals and Seahawks. That's a reflection of how widespread NFL loyalties are not only in Toronto but across Canada.
The Redskins could've used someone like Portis. Ryan Torain had 14 yards on eight carries.
Washington couldn't even hit a field goal. Graham Gano's 49-yard attempt four minutes into the second quarter was blocked by Spencer Johnson. The Redskins failed to capitalize after Fitzpatrick mishandled the snap and fumbled at his own 31.
Fitzpatrick also had a pass intended for Stevie Johnson intercepted by Fletcher in the end zone. He also bounced back from a big hit from Fletcher, the former Bills linebacker, in the final minute of the first half.
Fletcher caught Fitzpatrick high on the chest and bowled him over just as the quarterback completed a short pass to Jackson, who turned it into a 46-yard gain. Fitzpatrick was slow in getting up and then dropped to one knee, forcing the Bills to call their final timeout.
After being attended to briefly by the training staff, Fitzpatrick stayed in the game to help set up Lindell's 44-yard field goal to put Buffalo up 13-0 as time ran out.